Sometimes, we think we run a website dedicated to the aviation industry. After strikes and walk-outs that have affected European-bound travelers on Lufthansa, SAS and TAP Portugal recently – not to mention continued problems at German rail operator Deutsche Bahn – the misery and woe could spread to Asia in August, potentially spelling bad news for river cruisers embarking on voyages in China and Southeast Asia.
Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong and one of the largest airlines in Asia, could hit some very expensive and disruptive turbulence this summer. The airline’s flight attendant’s union, which represents just over 6,000 of the airline’s 10,000-person cabin crew staff, warned that they could potentially walk out for 14 days in August if their demands aren’t met.
It’s an action that would cancel 6,600 flights and strand over 3 million passengers around the world.
At issue: pay, or lack thereof. The flight attendant’s union is protesting the airline’s decision to reduce the hourly pay of newly-hired flight attendants once they’re signed on as permanent employees. The airline wants to cut their pay by 22 percent, to HK$159.30 per hour, or about US$20.55.
The stakes are so high that the Hong Kong Government has recently gotten involved. Sit-ins and protests have been staged at Cathay Pacific headquarters and at Hong Kong’s sprawling Chek Lap Kok Airport.
If you’re headed to Asia this summer, chances are decent that you’re flying with Cathay Pacific on at least one or more legs. While exact dates haven’t been pinned down by the airline, the union specifically named August as the month the strike, if it goes ahead.
Cathay Pacific is one of our favorite airlines to fly when we’re travelling to Asia – and we’re not alone in liking the product that the airline offers to its passengers. So what can you do if you’re booked on Cathay Pacific flights in August to reach your river cruise? For the moment, not much: until a strike has been formally announced, standard change and cancellation fees apply for flights booked with the airline. It’s important to note that the airline, the union, and the government have all publicly stated that it wants to avoid a strike.
In the meantime, it pays to watch the news – and hope for the best.
We’ll continue to provide updates on the situation with Cathay Pacific, as it relates to river cruisers, as they become available.